Jump Force! Shouted with enough conviction, it sounds like a particularly punishing exercise plan, or a Saturday morning kids show from the early 90s.

Actually, that second one isn't too far from the truth. Bandai's latest fighter pulls characters straight from the pages of Weekly Shōnen Jump, the Japanese comics series that has been winning fans since the 1960s.

You might not have heard of the comic, but you'll know plenty of its creations: Dragonball, Naruto, One Piece and Yu-Gi-Oh! All started life on the pages of Shōnen. Plenty have made the jump from comic to console before (just look at last year's Dragon Ball FighterZ) but this is the first time PS4 gamers have been treated to a true crossover event.

Think if this as the Marvel vs Capcom of manga and you're halfway there.

STEP INTO THE RING

Jump Force doesn't play like any other mainstream fighting game, ditching tense 2D battles a la Street Fighter for expansive 3D arenas and more special effects than a Michael Bay blockbuster.

Each brawl is about as subtle as an atom bomb, as teams of three face off with complete freedom of movement to zip around in whatever direction you like, with suitably hectic results.

Even basic hits can send the enemy flying half way across the stage, with a 'chase' attack follow-up letting you close the distance in a flash and continue your assault. Combos are relatively short and don't require the reactions or dexterity of a cheetah to pull off, and retina-burning special attacks are as easy as holding R2 and tapping one of the attack buttons - no quarter circle motions required.

There are only a few buttons to get your head around: light and heavy attacks, throws and specials, plus blocking and switching characters mid-battle. Things get a little more complex once you add assists into the mix, calling on one of your other two fighters to help out during an attack, but the fast-paced combat isn't nearly as complex as Tekken, Soul Calibur and the like.

STAND BY FOR A STORY

Do you need a little motivation before you start swinging fists? Most fighting games need only the bare minimum reason for their characters to throw down. For Jump Force… it's probably best not to ask.

The story is suitably bonkers, with cosmic cubes turning people evil, distant worlds being destroyed-slash-merged, and red-eyed monsters trying to take over the multiverse. It's just the way this is all delivered is so unbelievably shonky - and especially so for a full-price game.

Characters wear a permanent scowl, even when chatting to friends. They barely move, acting like stick figures with one fixed emotion (usually anger). Even the action scenes feel half-finished: one unintentionally funny shot sees dragonball villain Frieza float up into the sky like The Simpsons' Poochie returning to his home planet.

If the developers had gone for the same cell shaded art style as the source material this might have made the animation charming, rather than laughable. Instead, Jump Force has gone for hyper-realistic full 3D, and the end result is something that wouldn't have looked out of place a couple of console generations ago.

The hub world that opens up for exploration between battles is just as devoid of life, with little to do except choose your next mission or start another cutscene. It should either be stuffed full of characters to interact with, or a lot smaller, so it doesn't feel like a chore to get around. The fact you have to sit through such long loading times between scenes just makes it all the more irritating.

PLASMA BEAMS AND PIRATE SHIPS

That's a real shame, as it's great fun to obliterate your enemies with outrageous, screen filling special moves, and getting the chance to live out those "who would win in a fight" scenarios with some of the most iconic characters ever committed to the pages of Japanese comics.

Dragonball favourites Goku, Piccolo and Trunks, One Piece stalwarts Monkey D. Luffy, Sanji and Sabo, a solid chunk of the Naruto cast and several Bleach regulars all make the cut, along with lesser known (a relative term when talking about manga) faces also making an appearance.

Each character has their own selection of special moves, but everyone's standard attacks feel very similar. That makes it easy to learn the ropes, even if you aren't ready to commit to three 'main' fighters.

Quite why only three women made the roster is a mystery, though. You can create your own female avatar to play through the story mode, if you like, but with a total of 42 characters to choose from, that's still a pretty lame percentage.

These player-made avatars can pick moves from any member of the cast, and winning fights earns currency that can be spent on spent on stat-boosting items, or customising your character with all manner of zany outfits and accessories. And yes, you can dress as a schoolgirl or pop on a bikini top if you really want. You perv.

FIGHT ME, MAYBE

With so few people playing in the pre-launch period we had for this review, it's impossible to say how the multiplayer modes will hold up in terms of lag.

Bandai doesn't exactly have good form when it comes to stable online play, with Tekken 7 and Dragonball FighterZ having their fair share of issues, but we'll withhold judgment until after release.

JUMP FORCE VERDICT

If you didn't know your One Piece from your Naruto before, this probably isn't the fighting game you've been waiting for.

Jump Force is unapologetically for the fans, with little to ease you into each character's expansive back story. The stilted cutscenes and frozen facial expressions might mimic the comics, but they look pretty basic on a 4K telly.

It's a fun fighter, but a simple one, where flashy special moves break up the action and combos are relatively basic. Sure, they'll still take you time to master, and with so many characters to choose from there's plenty here for anyone looking to learn, but it just doesn't feel like there's as much depth here as there is in rival fighting games.

Still, if screen-filling special effects and bug-eyed teens with the power of elasticity are your thing, you've come to the right place.

Stuff says... 

Jump Force review

Animé fans will get a kick out of seeing so many recognisable characters going hell for leather, but beyond the fan service, Jump Force doesn't have the depth of other fighting games
£45
Good Stuff 
Suitably bonkers story mode
Expansive character roster
Simple controls and easy-to-access mechanics
Bad Stuff 
Shonky cutscenes
Not as in-depth as other fighters
Feels poorly optimised

Where to buy Jump Force: